The Best Type Of Cocoa Powder To Use For Chocolate Ice Cream

Cocoa powder is an important ingredient in the making of chocolate ice cream. Derived from the solids left over after much of the cocoa butter is removed from the bean, cocoa powder has perhaps the most concentrated chocolate flavor of any chocolate product. A little goes a long way, but nothing provides you with the deep and rich chocolate flavor that is ideal when you're making chocolate ice cream. And there is no better cocoa powder for this task than Dutch-process cocoa powder.

Dutch-process cocoa powder, also known as European-style cocoa powder, is made with cocoa bean solids that have been washed in an alkaline solution. Cocoa is naturally high in acidity, with a pH usually hovering between five and six. Thanks to the alkaline solution, Dutch-process pH is brought to a seven, meaning that it is actually less acidic than natural, untreated cocoa powder. The process also gives Dutch-process its distinctive color and softer texture. It is somewhat milder than natural cocoa powder, but Dutch-process still provides great chocolate flavor.

The reason it works so well for your chocolate ice cream is exactly because of this acidic neutrality. When it is mixed in with the sugar, melted chocolate, cream, and milk, it will dissolve evenly throughout the ice cream, providing a nice, even, dark color, and very deep chocolatey flavor.

Making chocolate ice cream with Dutch-process cocoa powder

Chocolate ice cream consists of a few main ingredients. There's the standard ice cream base of milk, cream, and sugar, to which is added two levels of chocolate. In order to deepen the ice cream flavor, both actual melted chocolate and a Dutch-process cocoa powder and sugar infusion are added to the base mixture. The melted chocolate should incorporate easily into the base mixture, provided it is of a good quality with a relatively high cocoa content to help with the melting. Remember, thanks to that alkaline washing process, the Dutch-process powder will dissolve well with liquids. 

You'll only need about 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder for a 1-quart batch of chocolate ice cream. Despite its milder taste, the same rules apply to Dutch-process cocoa powder as they do to natural cocoa powder. Make sure you sift the powder as you measure it, as sifting will break up any lumps that will not dissolve into the ice cream. Undissolved cocoa powder can lead to clumps and chalky bits in your ice cream, which is the exact opposite of the velvety and smooth texture you're going for.

Though it was once difficult to track down, you can find Dutch-process cocoa powder in almost any grocery store. Other baking projects will certainly have you using natural cocoa over Dutch-process, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a better powder for chocolate ice cream.